Into the Wild at Chitwan National Park
We try to move closer to the light and realized we can’t really get close, after a small slope there was a river flowing at a decent pace. The lights started moving closer to us and the voices were increasing. Although they still wouldn’t respond to us, we kind-of assumed that they were from the hotel and were eager for a change of situation!
Finally a boat pulls up on the shore and three men come out, one smiling and saying hello. He asks us for our luggage which was still in the car. Then using the torch light we take few bags out assuming that we will get a night’s rest and will be out in the morning. Little did we know that we would be in the midst of the jungle in the wee hours of the morning…
The boat ride across the river was serene, once the boat was in the right direction, the river flow pushed us on, surrounded by the jungle on either sides and engulfed in fog, we were on our way to the Chitwan Jungle Island Resort! We were greeted at the reception, where the receptionist told us they have been waiting for us all day? We were like what? He said someone had called and told us that two people are coming from Gorakhpur, what a coincidence it was!
After telling him the story of how we ended up there, we asked him what his room rates were. Jungle Island Resort doesn’t sell rooms, but packages, so we got dinner, an early morning elephant safari and breakfast for Rs 2,500 Indian each which we felt was quite steep, but its not like we could decline the offer and check the next hotel, lol!
He was firm with his rates and also asked us to pay the boat keeper Rs 200 for getting us across and taking care of the car in the night incase its attacked by wild animals, which I found weird!
A Night at Chitwan Jungle Island Resort
Each room was named after birds, we were the ‘Larks’. The room had a double and a single bed, a small bulb and no fan, don’t need one here since its cold. Lights have to put off at 10.30 pm since the jungle is close by. All you get is a kerosene lamp to keep in the bathroom.
We got some nice dinner and were off to bed, morning we had a rendezvous with the elephants! A wake up call at 5.15 am to get ready for morning tea/biscuits followed by jungle safari. We were suppose to wear long pants and shoes, since we had no clue about the safari all we had was floaters and pajamas.
The elephants and their riders were along the banks of the river, the huge creatures were not hidden by the thick fog. A short walk to the ramp that helped us sit on the elephant carriage, and each group had an elephant, we were lucky Bhavika, Kayde and I got one elephant to ourselves.
First I thought it would be just a short ride on a path, what you generally expect, then all of a sudden the elephants split up, each claiming the jungle to be their own. No paths, the mighty tuskers start making a path, grabbing trees and branches and twisting them till they snap like match sticks. Something none of us had experienced before, we then managed to catch a glimpse of a wild boar running and then a herd of deer.
It was early in the morning, too early for pictures, firstly the jungle was densely covered so no light and then the motion of the elephant was putting our stability skills to the test. We managed to catch a glimpse of some interesting birds, one was an eagle that laid down flat to camouflage itself with the branch of a tree, the other looked some what like a pelican with a young one in a nest.
The only time we managed to get decent pictures is when the jungle opened up, just a wee bit not much but there was like around half a football ground of elephant grass and thorny plants, no wonder we were asked to wear a proper attire. The forest was dominated by curry tree often used for its curry leaves, they grew wild and tall and possibly provided the locals with a certain amount of income.
Since this was the first time I was on an elephant safari, I was enjoying the moment so was Kayde who ended up sleeping in my arms. It was quite a task in the beginning holding on to the elephant carriage and Kayde. But once you figure the elephants rhythm it becomes quite easy to do other things as well.
We were not as fortunate as other people in our group who managed to spot a Rhino, generally what happens is if one group spots a wild animal, the elephant is asked to trumpet, a signal so the other groups can get a glimpse of the animal as well. But this time it seems the Rhino was small and took off, possibly frightened, when the elephant appeared.
The Jungle Safari would have been better with a little more sights, as they say in every Jungle, you need to spend a couple of days to make the most out of it.
Unfortunately time was not on our side, the moment we got off the elephant we told that breakfast is served and post that it was hinted that we should leave. We wanted to spend some time to look around and take pictures, but the guy in charge came across as stern. The tone seemed kind of unpleasant and we were a little cheesed off with that. So the plan was to move on to our next destination – Kathmandu. We took a short walk around the place to click few pictures.
Spent some time waiting at the reception, before the man who was present the previous night appeared. He then asked someone else to take our bags to the boat, although this time, we had to walk a distance prior to getting on the boat. The previous night the boat had dropped us directly to the hotel this time it was a little bit of a task.
We crossed the Narayani river and found the car in the state we left in, loaded our bags, stopped in that pond we had to cross to wash the car. One thing about Nepal is dust, so much dust collects on the car when you travel, everyone wears face masks to escape breathing it.
Once we were out of the forest area we got a feel of the rustic village life in Chitwan. As we slowly drove through the 6 km stretch of winding mud roads in the Chitwan village, we were greeted by houses adorned with Maize. Some houses even had huge racks built with corn cobs stored, what were they for? Our curiosity got the better of us and we had to ask a local.
Huge fields alongside houses, and smiling children, Nepali people seem to be a happy bunch and these kids below would not let us pass until we took a picture of each one of them. We took around six pictures and then they waved us a happy goodbye.
Every place has a different style of housing, in villages, unlike cities where you are boxed up. The houses in Chitwan too had ample space for livestock, some houses even had ducks swimming in a channel besides the house.
Soon the rural landscape ended, we were back on the highway heading towards Kathmandu, 185 km away. After a short distance of straight flat road, we were driving on one hilly slope to another, every spot more scenic than the next. But just before reaching Kathmandu, 15 km away the car started to jerk and refused to come on. A problem that occurs with cars running on LPG, they start jerking with the RPM metering fluctuating wildly. We were on the last part of our journey to Kathmandu, what do we do, no mechanic in sight and the car din’t seem to get better with any of the tricks I had up my sleeve…
Share and Learn: